By Cassie LeBel
After a year-long effort, members of the LGBTQ+ Club, with the support of the Active Minds Club and Campus Life, were able to see their persistence pay off as they raised the rainbow pride flag on Thursday, October 11 for National Coming Out Day.
Students, staff and faculty gathered at the main entrance in support of Cape Cod Community College’s (4Cs) LGBTQ+ community where there was a strong feeling of community and solidarity present. Short speeches were given by President John Cox and LGBTQ+ Club President Levi Bourke. Once the pride flag was raised, all were invited to the Grossman Commons Cafeteria to further celebrate their triumph. “I’m proud to see that flag,” said Professor John French, one of the original founders of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at 4Cs.
When it began in 1992, French stated that the GSA only met in rooms with no windows because that was the only way that people felt comfortable with joining. During the first few months it acted as a support group to those who were hesitant to come out or those who were met by discrimination.
Now, thirty years later, French was able to stand beside members of a community he helped build. “We must continue to grow as a college community,” said 4Cs President John Cox, who was also in attendance at the Thursday’s ceremony. “[4Cs is] supporting diversity, inclusion and tolerance for everyone.”
Raising the flag was only one step of the many still to take towards perfecting a comfortable academic environment for every member of the LGBTQ+ community enrolled at 4Cs.
Two of the issues LGBTQ+ President Levi Bourke plans to focus on now are: educating and training faculty members to help better advocate for the wellbeing of their LGBTQ+ students. Bourke believes it is important that the school prints an individual’s preferred name and pronoun on all documents and class rosters.
“This flag means that times are changing,” said Bourke. “This campus still has a lot of work to be done, but this flag means that we are taking steps in the right direction and I can’t wait to see how far those steps will take us.”
After seeing pride flags displayed and raised proudly on other college campuses, Bourke wondered why 4Cs had yet to show their support in its own community.
This began a process with the LGBTQ+ Club that would last over a year as members navigated through the colleges rules and tried to figure out who they could bring their plan to.
The idea was brought to Dean Christine McCarey and Tracy Morin whose passion for the project helped make it a reality.
Those who are entering the campus and driving on the ring road will now be presented with a visual reminder 4Cs is a safe environment for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I think that having a pride flag on campus could mean a lot of different things to different people,” said Bourke. “Hopefully everyone who sees it can also see that they have a place on this campus and that they have just as much love and support as any other student.”